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Latin Music And Los Angeles' Exchange Explored In The Massive 'Pacific Standard Time'

Brazilian composer Joāo Donato rehearses an orchestra in a Los Angeles recording studio in the 1960's.
Brazilian composer Joāo Donato rehearses an orchestra in a Los Angeles recording studio in the 1960's.

As we have shown in so many previous episodes of Alt.Latino, the cultural interchange between the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean has been going on practically since there were people in these parts of the world.

A more formal exchange developed as more stylized music developed, reflecting the mix of indigenous, Spanish and African cultures that collided in the so-called "New World." Ideas have never recognized borders, real or imagined, and while we often stamp identities on music from specific countries, the reality is artists will follow inspiration no matter where they find it, or where it leads them.

That is the concept behind the massive, region-wide effort called Pacific Standard Time LA/LA (PST), sponsored by the J. Paul Getty Trust (The Getty) in Los Angeles. Its scope is jaw-dropping: a series of exhibits, installations, performances, lectures and concerts spread out over four months (September 2017 through January 2018) at over 70 cultural institutions from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, San Diego to Santa Barbara.

The musical wing of this project is based on the theme of cultural interchange. It's billed as the influence of music from Latin America on Los Angeles, as well as the influence of L.A. on Latin America. And it does, indeed, go both ways.

Our guide and guest host this week is pal Josh Kun, professor of communications for the University of Southern California's Annenberg Center. He has been busy since we last talked to him on Alt.Latino; last year, he was selected by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as one of their prestigious MacArthur "Genius" Fellows, and is the editor of the book that accompanies the PST music series, The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles.

Kun has put together a Spotify playlist to illustrate some of the points made in the book, as well as to accompany some of the performances — that's where we dive in this week.

As he always does, Josh connects the points between musical sign posts and gives us the view from above, reminding us of that there were never really separate musical 'scenes' in SoCal, that, one way or another, they were all connected.

Click the 'play' button up top to listen in on our journey.

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